Rick was born and raised in Marathon, ON. Rick’s Dad, Harold, originally came from New Brunswick for work in the woodlands and in 1969 took a job at the mill, American Can Company, where he worked until his retirement. Rick’s mom, Colette, was a housewife who cared for the daily needs of Rick and his 8 brothers and sisters. As the children grew, there were opportunities for everyone in the forest industry straight out of high school. Rick and his 4 brothers each started their careers in the mill or woodlands.
In 1979, Rick briefly left the community for “greener pastures” in British Columbia where he again worked in the forest industry. The mill there was not stable due to a downturn in the industry so Rick moved back to Ontario to work briefly in the trucking industry, returning to work at his hometown mill in 1981 until he started his own business in the mid-80’s. The Town of Marathon was booming as the population grew from 1,800 to over 6,000 with plenty of forestry and mining jobs for anyone who was willing to work.
The past decade has been challenging for the town as low mining commodities reduced the availability of mining jobs. The community continued to be sustained by forestry until the mill closed in 2009. The population has now settled at 3,500 as youth left the community to find jobs and start their families.
There is currently no forestry activity in Marathon; however, Rick is hopeful that will soon change. Work is underway to reopen the mill in some capacity. In addition, the planned reopening of the mill in nearby Terrace Bay is providing increased economic activity and support for the commercial sector. The area is also host to a new Local Forest Management Corporation with local board directors that will allocate fibre to benefit the local communities first and foremost.
Rick says, “Ontario’s forest industry has some of the best forest management practices in the world. We need to fully utilize our fibre basket to provide benefit to our communities and the ecosystem.”